Beach Vacation Season: How To Pack Skincare and Actually Use What You Bring

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Summer vacations are my absolute favorite because they usually include going to a beautiful sandy beach. I love sticking my toes in the sand and watching my kids dig to the center of the earth. Followed by necessary sand burials and a battle of wave jumping to wash all the sand away. Aww yes, vacations mean lazy days, yummy ice cream and no schedule! Well no schedule isn’t entirely true for our family. Usually if we are visiting a new destination I like to explore as much as we can within our time there making me a total itinerary maker. That means planning out our week, our top places to visit and what activities we’ll be enjoying. I then like to coordinate what exactly we’ll need for those excursions to be well-prepared. I never leave the hotel without SPF. 

Are you an overpacker or underpacker?

I tend to be an under packer because I like to travel light, but one thing I am consistent with is packing my skincare. To be honest it has taken me several times to get it just right but finally I found a system that works for me and my family. In the past I have overpacked toiletries and skincare products and have not used 70% of it. So here are my tips on packing exactly what you need and then following through with what you pack because as I mentioned vacations can be a time to be lazy.

What is your skin going through right now?

Think about what your current skin condition is just before traveling? Have you been experiencing breakouts, then make sure to bring a spot treatment. Have you been excessively dry due to the heat? Then be sure to pack a heavy moisturizer. You should always be treating your skin for the current climate and be practicing prevention. Take 1 to 2 weeks just before a vacation to be extra. That means seeing your skin therapist for a deep pore treatment and extractions or even a superficial chemical peel. Days leading up to your vacation apply an appropriate facial mask at home a few times. Just before leaving for a beach vacation I will apply a deeply hydrating hyaluronic acid sheet mask and multivitamin peptide mask another day in preparation for the salty beach and sunny weather. In the past I have packed these masks thinking I would use them but guess what, they came home with me and I never used them because my regular routine was disrupted. So prepping your skin beforehand to simply do the minimum is what I have found to work best.

Pack only the necessaries

What products do you use on a daily basis? Reduce your regimen and only bring those. If you exfoliate 2 to 3 times a week, then make sure you lightly exfoliate just prior to going on vacation and then immediately upon return. You’ll absolutely need to cleanse daily so bring the one you love the most. Perhaps a gentle glycolic cleanser which will both cleanse and exfoliate. TIP: But don’t try anything new while on a trip – stick to what your skin is familiar with right now to avoid any possible irritation.

You’ll absolutely need your moisturizer: you should be using a morning and evening moisturizer anyway so bring both. I switch my moisturizers to meet my skin’s needs for the climate. So on a beach vacation I’ll bring a lightweight hydrating moisturizer with SPF. I am more dry all year round so while my hair doesnt usually like the humidity, my skin does. However, if you are more oily or acne-prone then pack a mattifying moisturizer. Always plan for the destination. I swear by tinted SPF so if you can get by without bringing your full makeup bag then I highly suggest this as well. TIP: bring an eye product! Okay this is a big one because on vacation you might be indulging in foods or drinks that could cause puffiness, you might be awake later or earlier depending on your itinerary. I have found that a nice depuffing, cooling eye product is always handy to pack. If you can live without your serums for a short period of time then leave them behind. Alternatively, you could choose one serum that will most benefit your skin that week – perhaps your Vitamin C. And don’t forget lip balms, preferably with SPF.

Now more on SPF: again if your vacation includes long days in the sun and adventuring outdoors then you’ll be reapplying SPF often. I highly recommend packing a large bottle of SPF in your checked luggage, one that is good for your face and body and for the whole family. You’ll be able to throw the large bottle into your beach bag or backpack.  If you’re just fanny-packing then bring 2 to 3 travel sizes. Many brands offer a travel size or even trial and sample sizes so purchasing several of these come in handy to stash one in each of your bags. Depending on where you purchase your skincare products you may even be able to ask your skin therapist for free samples, SCORE! Speaking of travel sizes, that goes for your cleanser and moisturizers as well – if you can find them smaller then it’s a lighter way to pack.

Still unsure of what SPF’s are right for you? Read my previous post on

Don’t Forget Your SPF Today, Tomorrow and The Rest of Your Life

A few extras that I personally always pack are my tweezers – sometimes a rogue hair comes out of nowhere and having my tweezers on hand has saved me many times. I also get all my waxing hair removal services done just before a trip so I don’t have to worry about packing a razor. 

I pack only my makeup essentials, whatever you can’t live without. Obviously this depends on your destination but if we are taking a beach vacation I suggest keeping your look more natural. I can’t live without my brow box, mascara and a small concealer but otherwise I leave the rest at home. Lastly, these are outside of toiletries but still fall into protecting your skin – invest in some wide brim hats and UPF rash guards or clothing. The last thing you want to bring home from your vacation is a sunburn aka damaged skin. But as a precautionary I actually pack a small bottle of after sun lotion or sunburn relief – that could be anything that is lightweight and soothing like good old aloe vera. You can also look for products containing nourishing ingredients like lavender and rosemary. and coconut. I actually use it as my daily body moisturizer to stay smooth and hydrated.

Set it all out

Now you’ve strategically planned out what to bring vs leave behind, you’ve done all your extra skincare leading up to vacation and you’re finally there! Don’t let it all just sit in the bag. Bring it all out onto the sink or countertop next to your toothbrush. If it’s out of sight, then it’s out of mind. Plus, when everything is nicely set up, because it’s not a lot of things anyway, nobody is going to ask “Did you bring the cleanser?” ie my husband. I set out everyone’s morning and evening routines including my kids so that everyone can be self-sufficient.

Book a spa treatment on vacation

Another great way to not only spoil yourself on a beach vacation but if your skin absolutely needs the extra attention then booking a spa treatment in a new destination is the way to go. I love exploring day spas in new places to help rejuvenate myself. Oftentimes you will find summer specials or discounts to help with the cost too. If you are traveling to Phoenix, AZ be sure to visit Amazing Face Spa for our Summer Refresher Facial featuring a pineapple and coconut enzyme to nourish and brighten your skin. It sounds and smells good enough to drink! While we dont really have a beach here in Phoenix, we have many beautiful lakes and resorts! Enjoy your vacation wherever you go this summer and I hope these tips help you on your journey.

article post written by Angela Miles. copyright Angela Miles – All Rights Reserved